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Anatomy of a rising empowerment force

MSG won’t list but ad’ agency Jupiter Drawing Room could.

I wanted to know how 33-year-old Given Mkhari could make out a cheque for R24m to acquire 7% of newly listed call centre company Dialogue.

My enquiry revealed that the Dialogue stake is the tip of an iceberg; just one of numerous investments in Mkhari’s rising but lesser-known empowerment company, MSG Afrika.

The company, with a strategic 25% partner in Investec, has assets worth millions already.

Through MSG, the former Radio Metro Talk Show Host and his partner Simphiwe Mdlalose own:

  • 51% of ad agency Jupiter Drawing Room, which claims billings of R1,5bn;
  • Two other rising ad agencies – Metropolitan Republic and Black River FC, both of which list big corporates among their clients;
  • 25% of Quarto Press, a commercial printer with modern plant that is one of the stars of the group;
  • 51% of Curious Pictures, one of SA’s Big Five TV production companies
  • Sonovision Studios, a post production facility and producer of radio advertisements;
  • 35% of Kagiso Outdoor, which places airport, rail commuter and outdoor advertising;
  • 5% of Telkom Media, which is bidding to launch a satellite TV system to rival DStv, an investment that could run to R10bn.
  • PR firm, The Communications Firm
  • 7% of listed Dialogue Group;

Mkhari recalls that it all started in 1993 at Turfloop University, where he and Mdlalose ran the campus radio station. He was studying to teach but spent only 30 days teaching before focusing on business.

“I really love teaching and would like to return to it someday.”

Even when he was a radio star, he worked the night shift so that he could maintain his daytime business interests. While a DJ, he ran All Media Productions. Mkhari’s MSG is one of the entities bidding for a commercial radio licence in Limpopo Province. Furthermore, his company also runs Harmony FM a satellite radio station on behalf of the mining giant aimed at its 60-80 thousand miners. 

When MSG acquired 26% of the Jupiter Drawing Room in 2004 they were dissatisfied with the financial performance of the ad agency famous for its creativity. “We put it to the other shareholders that they should either buy us out or sell us control. Our partners chose the latter action and in 2006,we bought a controlling stake and brought in highly respected industry executives such as Mohale Ralebitso.

“Three months following the re-shuffling of what was now an MSG subsidiary, the company’s fortunes turned. The business won billings worth over R1bn. Some gains included MTN, Absa, Sasol and SAA. A lot of that new business was won in a week when nobody slept. Other Jupiter clients include all of the Edcon Group brands, Investec Asset Management, Peermont, Business Connexion and many others.

When will MSG list?

“No, we won’t list the top company. The shareholders want to be close to the action and a lot of the assets are encumbered, though we have a decent balance sheet. Some of the underlying assets might eventually be listed. Jupiter Drawing Room is a good candidate.”

Mkhari was interested to read about Dialogue when it listed in September last year.

“I dropped them an e-mail and we started talking to Jason and David Drew. The relationship grew fast. We have bought a stake and I am on their board.”

The intention is to build the BEE holding in Dialogue from 7% to 26%.

In Investec MSG has a strong partner.

“Like us they are hungry, flexible, quick, creative and accessible. They have vision.”

MSG has also enjoyed the support and advice of Fani Titi of Tiso Group who was their chairman for 2 years, Safika’s Saki Macozoma, Moss Ngoasheng, Vuli Cuba and they also have a working relationship with the likes of Roger Jardine and JJ Njeke of Kagiso Trust Investments. Mkhari says that far from being the usual suspects they are “very accomplished people who make themselves available to us”.

“We are a new generation of young black business people driven to build lasting operational businesses. We are inspired by BEE figures who have done well. We want to show another aspect of business in SA – black entrepreneurship.”

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A fool and his cash are soon parted

Given, you’re always an inspiration to other young business aspirants.

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